How environmental shifts affect coffee quality

How environmental shifts affect coffee quality

A team from Montana State University (MSU), Tufts University and the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has published a study stating that coffee quality is sensitive to shifts in environmental factors linked to climate change as well as to shifts in climate adaptation strategies.

The paper, “Climate Change and Coffee Quality: Systematic Review on the Effects of Environmental and Management Variation on Secondary Metabolites and Sensory Attributes of Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora,” was published this month in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

Past research has focused on how climate change impacts crop yields, according to Dr. Selena Ahmed, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development, and one of the paper’s lead authors. But recent studies have begun to look at how climate change impacts crop quality based on its biochemical composition, which influences the flavor of coffee, as well as its nutritional and health attributes.

“All of the biochemical compounds in coffee beans are critical to coffee quality,” she said. “Shifts in the biochemical composition of coffee loop back into the food system as it impacts the way consumers’ experience the flavor of coffee and their decisions about purchasing coffee. In turn, consumer decision-making impacts farmers’ livelihoods as well as how they manage their farms, with tremendous implications for sustainability.”

RELATED CONTENT  How important is to integrate pest management services in the hospitality industry

The team found two clear trends: increased altitude is associated with improved flavor and the aroma of the coffee, and increased light exposure is associated with decreased sensory attributes of coffee. They also found that coffee quality is vulnerable to changes in water stress, temperature, levels of carbon dioxide in the air and nutrient management.

“For years, coffee farmers have told buyers that the climate is changing and complicating their work, but the impacts of those changes on coffee flavor have been based on anecdotal evidence and, sometimes, on speculation,” said Kim Elena Ionescu, chief sustainability and knowledge development officer at the SCA.

The team also found that climate adaptation strategies in farms around the world, such as managing light exposure by maintaining canopy coverage and through on-farm diversification, are promising for maintaining or improving coffee quality.

In turn, evidence-based strategies could also help farmers sustain their livelihoods.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand how climate affects all crops so that changes in climate can be managed to support food security, nutrition and farmer livelihoods, Ahmed said.

Add to Favorites

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *